Athletes are regularly required to engage in daring contests that can result in physical or mental injuries. Concussions are infamous in this regard, as many talented athletes have been laid low by unexpected head trauma that diminished or destroyed their ability to compete, especially at a professional level. Studying and responding to concussions in athletes is thus of the utmost importance, and luckily, we’ve made some impressive gains over the past few years.
From reinventing sports equipment to changing how we conduct our medical studies, here’s a review of how we respond to concussions in athletes.
All eyes are on American football
The National Football League has been the focal point of many previous efforts to study concussions in athletes for one very good reason - many professional football players take hits unrivaled in other sports, and suffer the immense consequences of this fact sooner rather than later. According to the Harvard Health Review, the issue of football-caused concussions grew so serious that, in 2009, the United States Congress held a hearing on the issue.
This is because even the wealthiest of players can’t necessarily afford a lifetime of getting an MRI scan every time they get a serious head issue. In order to save the long-term mental and physical health of these athletes, it’s becoming increasingly normal to take preventative measures against these head injuries in the first place. After all, there is only a limited amount that can be done in response to a traumatic injury to the head, so preventing them in the first place is crucially important.
In order to prevent future concussions from occurring, researchers are now putting their heads together (rhetorically speaking) to come up with safer equipment. A new football helmet is being designed to help reduce concussions, for instance. The NFL has already announced that approximately $100 million is being put towards the issue, but critics allege that the League should be allocating even more funding toward this issue, given that it impacts virtually all players on the field who take hits.
This issue is complicated because not all concussions are created equal - sometimes, even a mild blow to the head can add up over time, with others, to become a serious problem. Concussion repercussions, an analysis by the Harvard Health Review, found that certain players who took hits more routinely than others were particularly vulnerable to concussions and other head injuries.
Responding to concussions in athletes thus depends upon the specific sport they were playing, the specific position they were filling, and how they uniquely performed on and off the field when taking hits and recovering from them.
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